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Episode 4, The Salem Witch Trials: This Actually What A Witch Hunt Looks Like

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Welcome back to the CGS blog. This is another big episode for us. So big in fact that we had to make it a two part series. We originally decided on the idea for this show in mid-October because it was Halloween and we were feeling spooky. What’s spookier than archaic beliefs leading to mob mentalities and the death of innocent men and women based on ignorance and superstition? This, my friends, is a witch hunt.

The word witch hunt has been thrown around a lot in the last two years. It’s not the first time in American history that this has happened. Many people saw similarities between the 1692 Massachusetts Bay colonies Witch Trials and the “Red Scare” of the late 1940 into the mid 1950s. The similarities were so great, in fact that legendary playwright, Arthur Miller took a cue from a German contemporary named Lion Feuchtwanger, who also drew correlations between the European Red Scare and the Salem Witch Trials (look up the play “The Devil In Boston”) and wrote his own allegory, titled “The Crucible”. For those of you who aren’t familiar, the Red Scare was period in American history when the fear of Communists infiltrating our government was at a fever pitch. This collective fear, led to notable Shitbag Joseph McCarthy claiming he had a list of 205 communist party member within the US Department of State. What he actually had was a blank piece of paper and a dream.

More Recently, in the 1980s through the 1990s, we had another version of a witch hunt. This has been dubbed “The Satanic Panic”. Kicked off by the largely discredited book, “Michelle Remembers”, law enforcement agencies across the US took criminal activity and viewed it through a lens of “satanic ritual abuse”. This nonsense led to false witness statements coerced out of young children and false confessions forced out of people without the means to protect themselves from the onslaught of allegations, ruined reputations, and the weight of the federal, state, and local governments. You don’t have to take my word for it. Look up The West Memphis Three and the McMartin Trial for a glimpse into the lasting damage of religious fervor coupled with conmen and shear ignorance.

This is not a political podcast. Naturally, we all have political leanings based on our own personal opinions.  Speaking for myself, anyone who has heard me talk knows I am not an authority on any subject, especially with respect to the affairs of state. However, the term “witch hunt” inspires feelings of baseless accusations, ruined reputations, ruined lives, and even death. I think it’s important that we are careful when we use the phrase “witch hunt”. When we apply it to legitimate investigations that result in evidence based convictions, we dilute the meaning of the term and that is a disservice to the memory of everyone who has suffered as a result of these insidious, historical examples. Thank you for checking us out and I hope you enjoy the show.

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